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NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts

Low Power Microrobotics Utilizing Biologically Inspired Energy Generation

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

In this Phase I study, the study team will investigate the usability of a microbial fuel cell to power a small microrover, design low-power electronics for effective power management of this system, and develop an efficient low-power non-traditional locomotion system to propel the lightweight vehicle forward.

Description: building a small microrover that employs energy generated by a bacterial source Objective: investigate the usability of a microbial fuel cell to power a small microrover, design low-power electronics for effective power management, and develop an efficient low-power non-traditional locomotion system to propel the light-weight vehicle forward The Naval Research Lab is developing a 1 kilogram microrover that utilizes a novel power system concept – bacteria! Certain microbes can be harvested to effectively change chemical sugars into electricity through a fuel cell, which can provide a higher power density than a traditional lithium-ion battery. This process will be used to slowly build up a storage of electricity, which will provide a burst of energy to the vehicle's novel hopping or rolling mobility system. In this Phase I study, the study team will investigate the usability of a microbial fuel cell to power a small microrover, design low-power electronics for effective power management of this system, and develop an efficient low-power non-traditional locomotion system to propel the lightweight vehicle forward. Small microrovers with this power system could one day support long-duration research studies on planetary surfaces without the need for large solar panels or complex power systems. (This is a project within the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts, NIAC, program.)

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This is a historic project that was completed before the creation of TechPort on October 1, 2012. Available data has been included. This record may contain less data than currently active projects.

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